Tag Archives: WWE

How I would have booked the opening segment of Monday’s RAW

As anybody who watches WWE’s flagship show Monday Night RAW will know it used until fairly recently be a joke that the show always opened with mind numbingly dull promos by the Authority – Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon. To be fair that tradition has declined recently and this past Monday saw something different with the show being opened by new women’s Champion Sasha Banks who was then interrupted by the woman who she took the title off Charlotte. Ah great WWE are trusting the women to open RAW and showing respect for their female competitors. The “New Era” really was here….

Er no. The women were interrupted by a man – Chris Jericho – for some reason. He bad-mouthed Banks (telling her to be “quiet”). Banks then got rescued by another man Enzo Amore who seemed to imply he wanted sex with her. RAW General Manager Mick Foley interrupted this farce and for some reason booked a mixed tag between Charlotte/Jericho and Banks/Amore. A mixed tag means it can only be man v man and woman v woman. Now mixed sport does not in my opinion work (as I wrote in previous post “Mixed Troubles” it does not work in tennis so it will not work in another sport). Basically the segment was rubbish and was only used to further a men’s feud between Jericho and guest commentator for the mixed tag Kevin Owens and Amore and his partner Big Cass. Yes the women were used only to further a male feud. It was sleazy and sexist and I can do it better. Well anyone with a brain could….

Assuming that the aim was to use the women to further a male feud here is how I would have done it. First of all I would not change the Sasha/Charlotte part of the segment. But instead of Jericho entering the ring I would have had Charlotte’s henchwoman Dana Brooke attack Sasha from behind and then Charlotte and Dana would double team Sasha… until Summer Rae* came to Sasha’s rescue (remember Sasha and Summer Rae were former allies in the BFFs on NXT so the story makes sense). Foley interrupts but instead of the mixed tag he would set up a women’s tag between Charlotte and Dana and Sasha and Summer Rae

Since Summer Rae and Brooke are not at the same level as Sasha and Charlotte the last two would carry the match in a mini version of their match from the previous week. The finish would however come when Charlotte and Sasha start fighting each other outside the ring leading to Brooke pinning Summer Rae. This stops Sasha being pinned which happened in the real match which fans disapproved of.

OK if you want to involve the men here is how you do it. Have a backstage skit where Jericho and Amore are watching the women’s match. After this match the following conversation would take place.

Enzo tells Jericho what an amazing match Charlotte and Sasha had last week. Jericho agrees saying the women are far improved from his earlier time in the WWE (true). Amore says that he saw how good these women were in NXT so it did not surprise him and he was glad he didn’t have to wrestle them. Jericho says that he has wrestled women before and he’s been there done that(again true).. He then tells Amore the reason that he does not want to wrestle the women is that Charlotte would have him tapping out like a baby to the figure eight. Amore retaliates by saying to Jericho that he can talk because Sasha would have him tapping out like a baby to the Bank Statement. An enraged Jericho can’t take this anymore slaps Amore the two men brawl and then as usual a number of oficals try to separate them. After they eventually succeed Amore shouts to Jericho that he has a partner (Big Cass who was not at RAW on Monday) and Jericho hasn’t. He challenges Jericho to a tag team match but adds that he won’t be able to find a partner as everyone will remember he dumped his last one (AJ Styles earlier in the year).

From there you could have Jericho asking various wresters to be his partner but they turn him down. Then later in the night you could have Jericho in a match (against the Big Show say) where he is being overpowered. Kevin Owens steps in and beats up Big Show and voilà Jericho has Owens as a partner to fight against Enzo and Cass either in a future RAW or at SummerSlam later this month – just like in the real show.

Where this improves on the opening segment of Monday’s RAW is that the women don’t get interrupted and overshadowed by the men and you don’t get the sexist innuendo from Amore to Banks. Nor do you get the mixed tag match which is too artificial since you can’t mix the sexes. You also have a couple of men boosting the women’s division by praising the women saying how good they are and that they are scared to wrestle the women. It benefits the women and puts them “over” with the crowd and would have been far better than what the WWE actually came up with.

*I would actually have booked Paige who has made as many appearances on RAW lately as Lord Lucan but the British woman is injured.

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If Lucha Underground wants to grow it must get rid of intergender matches

In case any one is interested I’m also on Twitter (@bainalan05). And last Wednesday this is what someone said about me on Twitter:

“This guy is the biggest idiot on Twitter!”

“What an idiot!”

Both tweets were by Thomas Barnes (@ThomasTheRef). So what on earth had I said to annoy him?. Here is the tweet that so annoyed him :

“If it were up to me #LuchaUnderground would be shut down for promoting #domesticabuse.”

For those who don’t know (which will be 99% of the UK population for reasons I will explain) Lucha Underground is a weekly TV wrestling show which is shown on the ElRey network in the US – but does not have a UK TV deal (which is why 99% of the UK population won’t know about it). It is based on Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling and has attracted former WWE stars Ray Mysterio, Chavo Guerro and John Morrison. It has attracted a cult following in the US probably as a “protest vote” against the current WWE product which a lot of people see as stale.

So far so harmless. So why do I want it shut down, and why do I say it promotes domestic abuse? Simple. Lucha Underground uniquely among TV wrestling shows has regular intergender matches. That means men and women fight each other either in singles matches or in their trios (three man tag) matches. The people who run Lucha Underground boast they are ahead of the curve when it comes to intergender matches and they even  boasted to WWE officials about how forward thinking the intergender matches are. But they are not. Men (even pretending to) hit women is not suitable entertainment for a TV audience in a civilised country. It might have been in the 1970s (when UK films like “Get Carter” and even James Bond films “Diamonds Are Forever” and “The Man With The Golden Gun” included man on woman violence) but it isn’t now. So far from being “forward thinking” they are going back to the 1970s.

As I wrote on Twitter I would shut it down unless it agrees to stop intergender matches. (I wrote in previous post “Why Rousey v Mayweather must never happen”) how the US authorities could get intergender matches banned. But what I will do now is to explain why it is in the best interests of Lucha Underground to ban intergender matches.

Lucha Underground reminds me of both Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). ECW was an alternative wrestling promotion to WWE and WCW which existed from 1993-2001. UKIP I’ve wrote about in other posts. The similarities between ECW and Lucha Underground are obvious. Both took advantage of the unpopularity of established wrestling Promotions at the time (WCW and WWE in 1993, WWE now). And both tried to popularise a novel style of wrestling (hardcore wrestling with ECW intergender matches with Lucha Underground). ECW won a cult following but it soon suffered from the ” plateau effect” where only a minority of wrestling fans wanted to watch hardcore wrestling which caused it’s audience to plateau at a low level. The hardcore matches repelled as many as they attracted.

UKIP is similar in UK politics. Far more people agree with their policy of getting the UK out of the EU than would vote for UKIP.
I want the UK out of the EU (I’ll explain why in a future post) but have never voted UKIP. Why? Because Nigel Farage their leader has vile policies like banning people with HIV from entering the UK and too many of his party members make fools of themselves with racist and sexist remarks. As a result at last year’s election UKIP suffered from the “plateau effect”. Apart from Douglas Carswell’s personal vote in Clacton UKIP did not get more than 33.8% of the vote in any constituency last year. And in the UK’s first past the post electoral system 33.8% of the vote nearly always does not win you a seat. If Farage had moderated his rhetoric and his members had behaved themselves UKIP might have done better than nearly 4 million votes and one seat.

And this is where the analogy with Lucha Underground comes in. I am convinced that intergender matches split wrestling fans down the middle and totally repel non wrestling fans. In effect Lucha Underground is alienating half of its potential audience which is not clever. Since (apart from the intergender matches) I have read nothing but good things about Lucha Underground from anyone not called Jim Cornette I would like to watch it and make up my own mind. But I will not watch male v female violence – even acted. So they have lost me. And how many other people?

It will also cost them if they want to grow – as any business must. Plenty of cable networks in the US (like Spike TV that used to show Raw) are VERY anti male on female violence. Wrestling writer Dave Meltzer has said that “a lot of potential TV partners either would turn on Lucha Underground because of the intergender matches or would do so if pitched the show”. In other words intergender matches are costing them fans and perhaps a future TV deal.

David Bixenspan (February 3rd 2016) wrote that ” if it’s a legitimate hurdle to Lucha Underground’s business interests, then it’s probably best to abandon the gimmick”. I would say it is definitely best to abandon intergender matches. If they do not I am convinced that they will suffer from the same “plateau effect” that ECW and UKIP did. Wrestling has a small audience to begin with. If you limit your already small potential audience you are committing suicide. If Lucha Underground want to grow (and I assume they do) intergender matches must go.

Why TV 14 should not come back in the WWE (and why it won’t)

Since 2008 World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) television has been rated Parental Guidance (PG). Before 2008 – during the “Attitude Era” and the subsequent “Ruthless Aggression Era” the WWE was rated TV 14. Now a lot of wrestling fans don’t like the current PG rating and want to go back to the Attitude or Ruthless Aggression Era but (a) they are wrong and (b) there is no chance of it happening anyway.

First of all people who regard the Attitude Era as better are guilty of the same mistake as the people who think British football was better in the 1970s. Both suffer from selective memory and only remember the good points rather than the rubbish. Yes there were good points about the Attitude Era – Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, Triple H, the Undertaker, Kane, Kurt Angle and Mankind – but with probably the exception of Mankind they would have been stars in any era.  But there was a lot of rubbish in the Attitude Era too and here is some of it.

Val Venis. Vince Russo. The Godfather. Vince Russo. A woman giving birth to a hand. Vince Russo. A wrestler – Perry Saturn – becoming friendly with a mop. Vince Russo. A wrestler – Al Snow –  coming to the ring with a mannequin head. Vince Russo. Katie Vick. And did I mention Vince Russo?

But by far the worst aspect of the Attitude Era was its treatment of women. The reduction of female talent to being judged on “T & A” rather than wrestling ability started here. Evening gown, bra and panties matches, women wrestlers posing in Playboy and being forced to have breast enhancement surgery before they got into the WWE all first occurred in the Attitude Era. As did Jerry “the King” Lawler and his appalling “puppies” catchphrase.

And when women were not treated as sex symbols they were being beaten up by men. In one horrific incident Lita was beaten up by two men. Not just any two men but Austin and Triple H. That would be ridiculous for a male wrestler to go through never mind a woman. True Chyna did win the Intercontinental title during this period but it just showed that the attitude of WWE to women in this period was bewilderingly contradictory. By having women in inter gender matches, taking chair shots from Stone Cold and Triple H and being put through tables I presume they were trying to show they were as tough as men. And yet they also showed them parading around in their underwear at the same time. In effect they were being both feminist and sexist at the same time! Thankfully both T & A and inter gender matches have been consigned to the bin of history and the WWE is finally giving women’s wrestling a fair go as Sunday’s Wrestlemania showed.

People say the current PG era is rubbish and yet most fans (this one included) are impressed by the WWE’s developmental show NXT. And guess what? NXT is PG. While it is clear that WWE has problems if its development show is better than the main roster – imagine if Minor League Baseball was better than Major League Baseball! – being PG is not the problem. What they need to do is for owner Vince McMahon to retire – he is 70 after all – and hand over control of WWE to son in law Triple H (who runs NXT) and make the main roster like NXT. If NXT is PG and good the main roster could be like that too.

Now why WWE won’t get rid of PG. To my mind Vince McMahon never wanted to have the Attitude Era in the first place. At the time the Attitude Era started (which most people would say was sometime in 1997) WWE was getting stuffed in the ratings by WCW and was in danger of bankruptcy. I suspect McMahon’s view was “If I’m going down I’ll go down fighting”. Had there not been head to head competition with WCW McMahon would have just kept doing the same thing he’d been doing since the mid 1980s. Although ratings are low now there is not the head to head competition there was in the 1990s. Further more sex, nudity and men beating up women would be totally unacceptable now and would make the WWE toxic and be hated in the press (especially the UK press and if the UK press turn against you you are in trouble).

Some people think that the USA Network – which shows RAW in the States – might force WWE to make changes if ratings keep falling. Unlikely. McMahon could just move RAW to another network. After all RAW started on USA, moved to TNN (later Spike TV) and then moved to USA again. And there is another option. The WWE has its own network – called the WWE Network. It would not surprise me if in the future RAW became Network exclusive in the States (like the Pay Per Views already are). Then McMahon would not need to listen to what the TV networks think.

So basically stop pining for the Attitude Era. Like 1970s UK football a lot of it was rubbish, too violent and totally sexist. And also like the 1970s it ain’t coming back…

Fifteen years ago today a war ended

Today is a big day in the history of American wrestling. Fifteen years ago the last ever episode of the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) show Monday Nitro took place. Since September 1995 that show had competed head to head with World Wrestling Federation’s (WWF) Monday Night Raw in what became known as the “Monday Night Wars”. The war ended when the WWF purchased their rival.

The story of the Monday Night Wars is actually the story of one of the most spectacular rises and falls in a short period of time ever. They have been other spectacular rises and falls in a short space of time. For example in 1960 Northampton Town were in Division Four, in 1965 they made it to Division One and by 1969 they were in Division Four again! In politics in the 1970 UK General Election the Scottish National Party (SNP) elected 1 MP and won 11.4% of the Scottish vote. By the October 1974 election they were up to 11 MPs and 30.4% of the Scottish vote…and in 1979 they were down to 2 MPs and 17.3%  of the Scottish vote. But at least Northampton Town and the SNP still exist. WCW do not which makes this rise and fall quite the most  spectacular.

In 1993 WCW lost $10 million. They were very much the number two promotion to the WWF and had never turned a profit since billionaire Ted Turner bought it (when it was called Jim Crockett Promotions. It was renamed WCW in 1991). In fact in early 1995 WCW President Eric Bischoff had a dollar bet with Harvey Anderson that he could get WCW into profit. He did. Then in 1995 Turner and Bischoff created Nitro to go head to head with Raw. A year later Nitro began a run of 84 consecutive victories over Raw in the ratings, and for the first time since Vince McMahon took over WWF in 1982 and took it global his promotion was the number two in America. In 1998 WCW made a profit of $50 million (remember in 1995 people thought WCW could not make any profit). And as quickly as WCW rose..it fell. By 1999 Raw was beating Nitro in the ratings again and WCW lost $15 million. By 2000 they were losing $62 million. By 2001 they were such a toxic brand that the CEO of the TV Network they were on wanted them off the channel meaning no one but WWF would buy a wrestling company with no TV contracts. How on earth did WCW rise and fall so quickly?

The rise was due to Turner having the courage to go head to head with McMahon on Monday nights and also giving Bischoff the money to get Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash from the WWF. Bischoff deserves credit for portraying Hall and Nash as invaders from WWF and with Hogan forming the New World Order (NWO). He also deserves credit for promoting the Cruiserweight Division with exciting high flying wrestlers. But WCW were lucky too. The WWF was stale and stuck in a rut (some would say WWE* is in the same position today) and like the Australian cricket authorities when facing Kerry Packer in 1977 were totally unprepared for head to head competition which they didn’t expect anyway. In 1996 and 1997 it looked like WWF might even go under.

So how did it turn round? In any competition there is what the winners did right and what the losers did wrong.  There was an example here of a “butterfly effect” where small events lead to big consequences. The small event here was Bischoff asking Madusa to throw her WWF Women’s Championship into the trash can on live TV. Seemed a harmless little publicity stunt at the time. But two years later when another WWF Champion Bret Hart left for WCW (with McMahon’s blessing) McMahon could hardly risk Bischoff trashing another of his belts. So when Hart refused to lose to Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 1997 McMahon screwed him out of the title (the infamous Montreal Screwjob). This in turn made McMahon hated and he was clever enough to turn it to his advantage making himself the main heel in the WWF and to him having an infamous rivalry with his most popular star Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Austin- McMahon rivalry helped along by Mike Tyson appearing at WrestleMania XIV, was the main (but not the only) thing the WWF did right.

As for WCW incredibly they made the same mistake WWF had made in the early 1990s. They went stale. They relied on the same stars. They never produced a home grown star in that era except for Bill Goldberg. They had other fresh talent – Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio – who became stars but with WWF since WCW wouldn’t push them. The first three left in frustration while Mysterio went to WWE in 2002 after WCW collapsed. Another mistake WCW made was to give wrestlers like Hulk Hogan creative control which meant Hogan could refuse to do anything he did not want to do. The equivalent of a footballer insisting they are picked for every game and just as ridiculous.

And once WWF went ahead in the war, WCW panicked spending prodigious amounts of money on people that were not needed. For example $1 million on a non wrestling rapper Master P,  $1 million on a basketball player Dennis Rodman and $150,000 a year paid to Randy Savage’s brother Lanny Poffo – who never wrestled a match for WCW.

And as often happens when a company is losing they think  “if you can’t beat them recruit them”. So WCW signed WWF’s head writer Vince Russo** thinking he would turn them around. The problem was Russo’s ideas were mainly ridiculous. In WWF that made no difference because Vince McMahon had final say so he could veto Russo’s bad ideas (like making Chyna a woman the WWF Champion). In WCW his warped mind ran amuck. He made actor David Arquette WCW Champion in 2000 probably finishing the company off for good. And he loved pole matches – Viagra on a pole, pinata on a pole, Judy Bagwell on a pole (yes a human being!) and most ridiculous of the lot a “San Francisco 49ers” match (don’t ask!)

But it wasn’t just Russo. Whoever run WCW from 1999-2000 especially seemed to be effected. A book could be written on WCW’s incompetence and has been (“The Death of WCW” by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez).  It is as much a comedy book as a wrestling book but I should just mention three examples of non Russo WCW incompetence in 1999 and 2000 (there are many more).

1. Having a storyline where one of your most popular stars Ric Flair is sent to a mental hospital where he dances in his underwear meets fellow wrestler Scott Hall who is there for reasons unknown and is eventually bailed out by Arn Anderson (never knew you could get bailed out of a mental hospital).

2. Booker T and Big T have a feud over the right to use the letter T (I am NOT making this up!)

3. WCW’s resident boy band 3 Count claiming that their first (non existent!) album had gone platinum and their second would be even bigger and go gold (in the music industry a platinum album is more successful than a gold one!)

No wonder WCW ratings went down the toilet and Nitro did not best Raw in the ratings after October 26 1998. But even then they could have survived. One reason they could waste money on rappers and basketball players was they had a blank cheque due to being owned by Ted Turner. And he would never have got rid of wrestling as it was the first ratings winner for his cable TV stations TBS and TNT. But when Time Warner merged with America Online (AOL) in 2000 the party was over. Turner lost control AOL were not going to fund a company losing $62 million and WCW was put up for sale in October 2000. Even then they might have survived. Eric Bischoff wanted to buy them but new Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner announced there would be no more wrestling on TBS or TNT (similar to what Greg Dyke of ITV had done with UK wrestling in 1988). Without TV, Bischoff’s bid collapsed and McMahon bought WCW for less than $3 million. (to think the owners had turned down $ 500 million a year earlier!). The Monday Night Wars were over. McMahon had won.

But I would say it was not a good result for wrestling. WWE’s ratings have gone down the toilet in some weeks below those of the awful 1999-2000 Nitros. The WWE has gone complacent and stale. Like most monopolies it needs competition. Raw would not have reached the highs of 1998-2001 without the competition of Nitro. Do I think competition in wrestling will happen again? No. There is Total Non Stop Action (TNA) but it is as incompetently run as WCW was and when it tried to recreate the Monday Night Wars in 2010 it got annihilated. Remember WCW was subsidised by a billionaire and apart from 1995-98 lost money. I suspect the WWE will never face competition again. A cheery thought….

*WWF changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2002. When writing about the Monday Night Wars I’ve called it WWF. When writing about the period after 2002 I’ve called it WWE.

**I’ll declare an interest here. I hate Vince Russo. He is xenophobic (he said Americans don’t want to watch Mexican and Japanese wrestlers and thought even Vince McMahon could not make WCW wrestler Loch Ness a star. If he knew anything about wrestling outside the US he would know that Loch Ness – as Giant Haystacks – was a superstar in the UK) and sexist ( his idea of women wrestling was to either have them get beaten up by men or fight in evening gown matches, bra and panties matches or other sexist crap. He has to in my opinion take a large part of the blame for the contempt women’s wrestling has been held in until last year’s Divas Revolution). This guy is wrestling’s equivalent of Donald Trump and how he got a job as head booker in any wrestling organisation is a complete mystery.

Let’s get ready to rumble

As I mentioned in an earlier post (“Why Rousey v Mayweather must never happen”) I am a fan of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and this Sunday sees my favourite WWE event the Royal Rumble. Now the favourite event of most WWE fans is Wrestlemania but mine is the Royal Rumble which is not only unique in the WWE but is rare in sport.

For in the Royal Rumble you do not know who you will see. At all other WWE events you know who are wrestling each other. At the Royal Rumble you do not. This is because of the unique format of the Main Event the Royal Rumble match itself. The match is a 30 man* Battle Royal. The catch is you do not know who is going to appear. This is because the 30 are not all in the ring at the same time. The first two wrestlers (usually decided by a random draw but not this year as I will explain later) start the match. After a fixed time (usually 90 seconds) the next wrestler enters the ring and thus carries on until all 30 have appeared in the match. Elimination occurs when a wrestler is thrown over the top rope with both feet touching the floor (a key caveat this. In 1995 Shawn Michaels was thrown over the top rope but only one foot touched the ground and went on to win the match).

What makes this match unique is that the fans do not know who is going to enter the ring until their entrance music appears. That is why I compare the Rumble to football’s FA Cup in that in the Cup a football fan does not know who their team is going to play until the result of a random draw. And it could be anybody. In the third round say Manchester United could draw Liverpool… or Leyton Orient. The Rumble is the same. I remember for example the 2002 Royal Rumble when Stone Cold Steve Austin had cleared the ring and was waiting for the next entrant. The response of the crowd when the theme music of Triple H another elite WWE superstar was played was amazing. It was like Liverpool bring drawn against Manchester United in the FA Cup!

Another resemblance between the Rumble and the FA Cup is that while usually ( but not always) a rich team/big name superstar wins you get giant killings along the way. By far the Royal Rumble’s biggest giant killing came in 2002. The Undertaker had cleared the ring and was waiting for the next entrant. It was the male winner of the “Tough Enough” reality show Maven who had barely had a WWE match. But with the help of the Hardy Boyz and Lita who distracted the Undertaker Maven eliminated the Dead Man. It would be like Arsenal being knocked out of the FA Cup by a non league team!

The one difference between the Rumble and the FA Cup is it can be a surprise when a big name wins the Rumble. Normally it would not be a surprise that John Cena or Edge won the Rumble. But in 2008 (Cena) and 2010 (Edge) they were injured and not expected to come back thus their appearance and victory was a surprise. The WWE often use the Rumble for surprise debuts/returns. For example the popular AJ Styles has signed for WWE and it would not surprise me if he made his debut during Sunday’s Rumble Match.

Talking of Sunday’s match this year’s Rumble resembles those of 1992 and 1999. Like 1992 the WWE title will be won by the winner of the Rumble match. The difference between now and 1992 is that in 1992 the WWE title was declared vacant due to shenanigans between Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker whereas now the WWE title is definitely not vacant. Reigning champion Roman Reigns is being forced to defend the title in the Rumble Match because he has gotten on the wrong side of WWE owner Vince McMahon who is determined that Reigns will lose the Rumble and the title (to no one’s surprise Reigns has been lumbered with the number one entry in a rigged lottery which means he has to go from gun to tape to win). And that is where the resemblance to 1999 comes in. In 1999 McMahon was determined Steve Austin would not win the Rumble lumbering Stone Cold with the number one entry and even entering the match himself. In fact the 1999 Rumble’s tagline and theme music were both called “No Chance in Hell” – referring to Austin’s chances of winning and still McMahon’s entrance music to this day. McMahon is determined that there will be no chance in hell for Reigns seventeen years on.

McMahon himself – with help from the Rock – won the 1999 Rumble. What I fear is that McMahon’s son in law and WWE chief operations officer Triple H will do the same in 2016. What I’d like to see is either Reigns winning against the odds or Brock Lesnar winning (preferably with Reigns the last man eliminated) thus setting up a Reigns v Lesnar main event match for the title at Wrestlemania 32 in April. Remember there was never a winner between Reigns and Lesnar at last year’s Wrestlemania because Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank so you could have them meet again to see who is the better man.

One thing is certain. The Royal Rumble will again be the most exciting hour in the WWE. All together now. 10-9-8-7….

*Usually 30 man but in four Royal Rumbles women competed. Chyna (1999,2000), Beth Phoenix (2010) and Kharma (2012). Since the WWE is now PG hopefully the abomination of male v female wrestling will not happen again.

Why Rousey v Mayweather must never happen

I have not admitted it here before but I am a big fan of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Yes I know it is fake but it is great entertainment and the wrestlers are great performers and athletes.

However there is something that just might happen at the WWE’s premier annual pay-per-view Wrestlemania that if it did happen would mean that I would never watch WWE again. The event would be a mixed fight between the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s bantamweight champion the unbeaten (12-0) Ronda Rousey and the unbeaten (48-0) multiaple time World boxing champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

Now you might think why would people be even thinking of a male v female fight? A conjunction of circumstances. First Rousey appears unbeatable. She won her last fight against Bethe Cotreia in just 34 SECONDS. And amazingly it was not her shortest fight! So people start looking for competition for her. Also add to this the fact that Mayweather is similar in height to Rousey (5ft 8 in to 5ft 7in) and there is only a few pounds in weight between them and people start thinking.

But there is a more sinister element to this. Mayweather has a history of domestic violence. He has been charged with the offence six times and served two months in prison for attacking the mother of three of his children. Rousey is a feminist. Some women would like to see Rousey take on Mayweather as some sort of revenge for his victims. Rousey has even brought up Mayweather’s past on a couple of occasions. First when she said that she would “never get in the ring with him unless they were dating” and  when she beat him to the Fighter of the Year award at the recent ESPYs she said (July16 2015) “I wonder how Floyd feels about being beaten by a woman for once”.

And add to this the race element.  Rousey is a white blonde while Mayweather is black. It is  too easy – especially in the US of 2015 – to see this becoming a case of the white hero v the black villain.  Every racist crackpot in the US – and there are a LOT of them – would support Rousey. You could have bizarre alliances forming where racists and feminists would support Rousey and sexists and blacks would support Mayweather.  Not a desirable scenario to put it mildly.

And amazingly people are taking this seriously. In the last week two articles have been published advocating the fight. One by Clay Travis on Fox Sports.com (August 3rd) was entitled “Ronda Rousey and Floyd Mayweather need to fight”. The next day David Whitely in the “Orlando Sentinel” wrote that “Rousey v Mayweather must happen”.

And Twitter has also mentioned the possibility of the fight happening. Two examples:

I would pay a large amount of money to see @RondaRousey kick Floyd Mayweather’s ass in the ring. She’s a beast. (Brittaney Phelps (@brittaneyphelps) July 28 2015).

When Rousey-Mayweather happens at Wrestlemania 5 years from now I want credit. Favourite this tweet. (Robert Littal (@BSO) August 2 2015).

And this is where the WWE comes in. Even taking gender out of the equation if one fighter is a boxer and the other is an ultimate fighter they can’t meet in the ring or in the octagon as that would be to the advantage of one or other of the competitors. They need a neutral venue. Like the WWE. And as luck would have it both Mayweather and Rousey have appeared at Wrestlemania. Mayweather at Wrestlemania 24 when he fought and beat the Big Show and Rousey at Wrestlemania 31 this year in a cameo with Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and the Rock. So a boxing/mixed martial arts hybrid match at a future Wrestlemania would seem ideal.

There is one big drawback in my opinion. The very idea of a man and woman fighting each other is to me morally repugnant. What message would it send out to men who beat their wives/girlfriends if they saw a man hit a woman in a fight on TV? Remember WWE fans know it is fake but those who don’t normally watch WWE who are drawn to WWE because of a Rousey v Mayweather fight would not know it was fake and think it is real. Would a wife beater justify beating his wife by saying “I saw Mayweather do this to Rousey on TV”? Even if only one man used the fight as an excuse it would be one too many. And I think Rousey knows this as she says she would not fight Mayweather.

But in sport money talks and there is a historical precedent. On September 28th 1973 female tennis player Billie Jean King took on male player Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome in the “Battle of the Sexes” – a $100000 winner-take-all match. Amazingly more than 30,000 people turned up to see King win and over 50 million watched on US TV – proving that a market for this kind of event existed during a period of strong feminist activity (another similarity with today).

The big difference of course is that tennis is not a physical contact sport and there was no risk of injury to King and no risk of glorifying male violence towards women. So that event was a harmless little publicity stunt – quite unlike a potential Rousey-Mayweather fight.

Ironically if these two were from the UK this fight would be easily nipped in the bud as the authorities could easily ban it because of the “average woman” law in the UK. This prohibits mixed sport in events where the average woman is at a physical disadvantage to the average man (my emphasis).It is clear that fight sports would fall into this category. The fact that Rousey is not the “average woman” would be totally irrelevant. Now when this law is applied to say football and cricket it is wrong but in the case of a man fighting a woman it is a perfectly justifiable way to stop it.

And that is what the US authorities must do. They must pass an “average woman” law – provided it only applies to fight sports – and for the purpose of this law the WWE – which calls itself “sports entertainment” would count as a sport.

If they don’t do this they are relying on the morals of the competitors and promoters of sport overcoming their desire to make money – a very unlikely scenario. People will say the fight will never happen but no one thought the Conservatives would get a majority in the UK General Election or that the Astros and the Mets would be top of their divisions or women’s football fever would sweep the UK and the US. Funny things happen in sport – and life.

So the US authorities must step in and make sure the sick spectacle of a Rousey-Mayweather fight can never happen. The UK Government can help by banning the WWE and UFC from coming to the UK if it ever happens (both brands see the UK as a key growth market).

One thing is certain. If Rousey v Mayweather happens I won’t be watching. And if it is held at a future Wrestlemania the WWE will have lost themselves at least one fan forever.